Tennis Preview – Tuesday November 1

Tuesday November 1st shapes up to be a great day of tennis as there are several early round match-ups in both Valencia and Basel featuring top 50 players.


The Baseline Rally Match of the Day pits 19th ranked Swiss national Stanislas Wawrinka against world #35 Ivan Dodig in the 1st round of the Swiss Indoor 500 level tournament in Basel.

Both players come in playing a lukewarm level.  Wawrinka is a mere 4-5 in his last nine matches with four of those losses to players outside the top 40 (Nieminen, Tomic, Donald Young and Golubev).  Meanwhile, Dodig is 2-6 in his last eight matches.

Both players have somewhat inflated rankings with Wawrinka’s lone tournament victory coming back in January at Chennai while Dodig’s lone tournament win was similarly in January at Zagreb.  If these two don’t pick up some valuable ranking points in the near future, they may both drop out of the top 40 after the Australian Open in January.

Wawrinka has the clear advantage in this match.  While both players have similar success off the first serve, Wawrinka’s 2nd serve has more bite and he has a more potent return game.  In long exchanges, Wawrinka’s forehand is a better weapon than anything that Dodig can employ.  Dodig also wins less than 50% of points on his second serve, so if he doesn’t serve lights out, he is in a heap of trouble.

Prediction: Wawrinka 6-4 6-4



Two American players meet in the first round in Basel with erstwhile top ten player James Blake meeting current top ten player and top American Mardy Fish.

This tournament is a big one for Fish who is looking to make the season ending ATP World Tour Finals in London.  He currently sits in the 8th position and the top eight qualify.  Fish has been playing some really good tennis recently, making the semi-finals in Tokyo before a tough loss to Bernard Tomic in Shanghai.  Unfortunately for Fish, he faces James Blake who is in fine form.  Blake recently had his best result of the season making the semi-finals in Stockholm before losing to Jarko Nieminen in three tough sets.

In order for Blake to have a chance in this one, his first serve percentage must be in the 70s.  While Blake’s 2nd serve was never a strength, it has become a glaring weakness in his game as he advances in age.  Look for Fish to attack Blake’s second serve at every opportunity and win over 60% of those points.

Blake still hits groundstrokes with great depth and has good power off the forehand side.  He must be very aggressive with every forehand he gets near the service line and try to move into the net sometimes.

Prediction: Fish 7-5 6-1


In another great first round match in Basel, big hitting Thomas Berdych faces the rising star from the Land of the Rising Sun Kei Nishikori.

Berdych has one of the biggest games in tennis and wins an impressive 78% of points off his first serve.  He is not, however, just a big server as is evidenced by his 29% winning percentage on return games.  Look for Berdych to attack Nishikori on both his 1st and 2nd serves, with Nishikori’s 1st serve not being a strong part of his game.

Nishikori is fleet afoot and his groundstrokes are very consistent.  He also enters this tournament having played some of the best tennis of his career.  He made the semi-finals of the Masters 1000 tournament in Shanghai last month beating top 15 players Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Alexandr Dolgopolov in the process.  He also reached the semis in Kuala Lumpur where he defeated yet another top ten player in Nicolas Almagro.

I still think that Berdych has too much game for Nishikori although expect this to be a tight match

Prediction: Berdych 6-4 2-6 6-2


In perhaps the marquee match-up of the day at the ATP 500 in Valencia, Spain, top 25 players from the home country tournament meet in the first round when David Ferrer meets Fernando Verdasco.

Ferrer is as consistent as ever this season, and as usual, suffers from being born in the wrong era.  If Nadal and Federer didn’t exist, Ferrer would likely be a Grand Slam champion.  But I digress.  Ferrer has been one of the better players on tour since the US Open, having lost in the Finals at the 1000 event in Shanghai and the semis in the 500 event in Tokyo – both times to the current hottest player on the planet, Andy Murray.

Meanwhile, Verdasco has had an off-year this year.  The crafty lefty was a top-ten player last year but comes into Valencia ranked 24th in the world.  The crafty lefty has a tricky service game and underrated groundstrokes, but is worse than Ferrer in every aspect of the game.  Look for Ferrer to control the pace from beggining to end.

Prediction:  Ferrer 6-3 6-2



The top player from Ukraine, 16th ranked Alexandr Dolgopolov takes on world #34 Marcel Granollers in the first round in Valencia.

After having a great deal of success in the early part of the season, finesse player Dolgopolov has looked tired in recent weeks.  He played close to home the last couple of weeks and produced disappointing results to say the least; he was smoked 6-2 6-2 by underwhelming Israeli Dudi Sela in St. Petersburg last week and lost to 100th ranked Jeremy Chardy the week before in straight sets in Moscow.  He also has a recent loss to journeyman Italian Flavio Cipolla in Shanghai.

Granollers, meanwhile, has not been lighting the world on fire recently either, having lost four of his last five matches.  He has, however, had some success at his home country tournament making the finals last year before losing to David Ferrer.

With the hometown crowd behind him, look for Granollers to take the match and eliminate the 7th seed.

Prediction: Granollers 7-6 1-6 6-4



Almagro is seeded 4th in Valencia and is a top-ten player, however, he is much more comfortable on the clay courts.  He has won three tournaments this year on clay, but has not yet reached a semi-final on hard courts.  Monaco, meanwhile, has not been all that active since reaching the round of 16 at the US Open.

Look for Monaco to control the pace with his bigger game.

Prediction: Monaco 7-6 7-5

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